Now that electronic cigarettes are being regulated as of 2016, many are asking why? Recently studies have proven e-cigarettes CAN help you quit smoking, even for those who have no intention to do so. With such a powerful tool, it could be the saviour of millions of people all over the world.
Electronic cigarettes contain batteries and “e-liquid” – a solution of propylene glycol or glycerine – containing a nicotine dose. A battery inside the e-cigarette heats up a coil attached to a wick. When the liquid is presented to the hot wick it produces vapour which can be inhaled. Since there is no smoke, puffing on e-cigarettes is called vaping, not smoking.
While e-cigarettes can be used as a stepping stone to ending nicotine addiction, some vapers see them as a way to continue a hobby they enjoy without the attendant fear of death. That’s because although nicotine is the addictive ingredient in cigarettes many experts do not think it is especially harmful. It’s the tar and other nasties in tobacco that kill. “Nicotine is not very dangerous, and it’s very unlikely someone will overdose on the nicotine in electronic cigarettes by inhaling the vapour,” says Maciej Goniewicz from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York – an oncologist who has analysed e-cigarettes and the vapours they produce.
He says despite the lack of research into the effects of long-term vaping, it is hard to say that e-cigarettes are absolutely safe, but we know enough to say they are safer than the real thing. There is no such thing as passive vaping.
However, countries are not holding back on the legislation. Those such as Brazil, Singapore and Mexico have already banned importing and selling the devices, even though tobacco is still on sale in all those countries.
E-cigarettes and Children
Some pressure groups fear the glowing lights on the end of electronic cigarettes are attracting the attention of young children. They also claim some may enjoy the fruity flavours as well. We know that it’s clear that some children have tried electronic cigarettes, but Prof Robert West, director of Tobacco Studies at University College London, says there is no sign they are becoming popular in the UK. We are the only country where the uptake is monitored closely. He adds that if and when young people do start smoking e-cigarettes, public health experts will have to study the causes carefully.
Prof West also discussed a very encouraging statement, “If those young people are people who would have smoked but instead they’re using e-cigarettes, then that’s a huge public health gain. If they’re people who would never have smoked but they’ve taken up e-cigarettes, frankly in public health terms it’s not really an issue – it’s like drinking coffee or something, there’s no real risk associated with it. The real risk is if they start using e-cigarettes and this acts as a gateway into smoking. Now which of those things happens none of us knows at the moment.”
Ninety per cent of e-cigarette users are also smoking, he says, indicating that the devices are being used as a quitting aid. Countries that have banned them are, in his view, “nuts”.
Some facts and figures:
- Around 1.3 million people in the UK use e-cigarettes
- 9 million people are regular tobacco smokers
- Roughly half the world’s smokers die from their habit.
- 25% of all quit attempts are made using e-cigarettes, making it the most popular quitting aid
- The UK’s medicines regulatory body MHRA therefore believes that e-cigarettes could help save 57,000 lives in the UK over the next decade
Around 1.3 million people in the UK use electronic cigarettes. 9 million people are regular tobacco smokers.